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Going Waterborne

Train for tactical operations in, on, under and around the water.

December 01, 2000  |  by Jim Weiss and Mary Dresser

Lee County Sheriff's Office Boarding Scenario Using Simunition
(Training Ammunition)

In four- and six-day waterborne training courses for the Lee County Sheriff's Office (LCSO), based on Florida's West Coast, Bronson upped the ante by installing multiple "bad guys" or suspects with shady histories and two hostages aboard a shrimp boat in one training scenario. The boarding party, backed by a second group covering the sheriff's office boat, drew the bad guys' attention as the team split into two-officer units to search and secure the vessel.


Indian River County Sheriff’s Office’s ERT team now feels right at home in the water. “Chief” Steve Bronson is wearing the red vest.

The hostage had an explosive device attached to his chest, controlled by one of the suspects, in plain view, who handicapped any rescuers by holding onto a pressure switch, ready to ignite the device. He randomly pointed a gun between the advancing officers and the hostage's head.

A second hostage, who did not speak English, was outfitted with explosives and tied to the stern rigging.  Suddenly, everything started happening at once. As someone jumped off the shrimper from the starboard quarter, distracting the crew of the cover boat, one of the bad guys fired six shots at the approaching sheriff's boat through the partial concealment of a scupper. He then, however, surrendered.

The boarding party moved onto the shrimper quickly. They threw a rope ladder over, but all team members boarded using hand- and foot-holds. Some team members moved to control the surrendering suspect. The non-English-speaking hostage tied to the rigging was checked over, and explosives experts were called to respond.

The suspect, who continued to hold the pressure switch attached to the explosives on the first hostage, brandished his weapon. A protective shield-bearing deputy began negotiations. Meanwhile, the hostage was able to free himself. The suspect, panicking, pointed his handgun at the deputies. Two deputies' gunshots struck him down with mortal wounds.

While this was happening on deck, a two-deputy team searched the boat's interior. One stepped into the fatal funnel of an open washroom doorway and was gunned down. As the suspect charged from the washroom, shooting and yelling, the surviving deputy returned fire. Another young deputy made a fatal mistake and opened a booby-trapped door, to which an explosive device was attached. Some mistakes, some successes. Following the scenario was a long and productive debriefing among the "survivors."

Positive Response

Bronson reports that TWO conducts 12 to 24 training classes in the U.S. a year, with anywhere between 12 and 24 students per class. This number is increasing as more officers participate in waterborne operations.

"Our ERT Team had contacted Bronson of TWO to provide three days of waterborne training," said IRCSO's Burdock. "Top-notch and professional is the only way to describe the course.  I highly recommend the training offered from TWO."

These comments were echoed in the Lee County debriefing session. Said Lt. Jeff Taylor of the LCSO CLEAN Task Force, "Tactical Watreborne Operations has the most realistic training and surpasses all law enforcement training I have attended in the 24 years of my career."

For more information:

Tactical Watreborne Operations
1630 General Booth Blvd.
Suite 109, Space 240,
Virginia Beach, Va. 23454
(757) 426-9526, or e-mail: watreborne@aol.com (remember the R comes before the E in watre. Coming soon: www.watreborne.com

For information on Kawasaki's Law Enforcement/Public Safety loan/lease program, contact
Jan Piessner or Merry Richey,
Public Affairs,
Kawasaki Motor Corp.
Box 25252,
Santa Ana, Calif. 92799-5252.

Jim Weiss is a retired police lieutenant from the Brook Park (Ohio) Police
Department.

Mary Dresser is an award-winning journalist, having worked in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and currently, Florida.

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Tags: Reality-Based Training, Hostage Situations, SWAT Tactics


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